Monday, June 29, 2009

A productive weekend. Two rehearsals, one of which was with son of Creon who hasn’t featured at all yet due to my peculiarly bitty rehearsal schedule.

On my long list of small concerns about how the show might go, somewhere towards the top of it is the fact that Creon, father to Haemon, is from Perth. And Haemon, nearest and dearest blood relative, is from Northern Ireland.

We saw Phedre by the National Theatre, filmed and broadcast live to a cinema near you on Thursday night. If that is any kind of benchmark (as it will be on a costuming front. Idea stealer? Me?), a motley crew of accents isn’t anything like an issue. Father in Phedre was from somewhere in the North of England. These stolid reliable warlike individuals always are, right? Whereas fruit of his loins was not. Maybe he’d been sent off to boarding school or something. As son of Creon may have been.

So interesting to hear the two of them together and puzzle over whether something could or should be done.

In addition to these delights, I talked (7 year old) Miriam through her starring role. (“Can I not die too?” she said, as I explained that most other people were dead by the end of the show. She ran around the living room and demonstrated being stabbed to show how she would brilliantly act. It seemed somewhat distasteful talk in a child – Barnardo’s would have been horrified - but that probably just shows up my lack of exposure to children.) Good news is she is volunteering one of her teddy bears as a vital prop.

Then I had a session in the street in the rain oddly, picking through fabric swatches to identify potential candidates for clothing the girls in my cast. Susan, to whom I must be eternally grateful, appears to be volunteering to make them dresses. Which almost makes me want to burst with excitement. But as I’m on a train just now speeding south, I shall endeavour to hold off at least until I get there.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thrillingly, Monday's rehearsal started 7 minutes early as everyone arrived promptly. It was marvellous.

In a bid to better my offering to my actors, I've been madly reading and reading (aided in this by late late clients who have not the manners to start a meeting on time) So you want to be a theatre director? by Stephen Unwin. This was a gift from a (clearly thinking I'm inadequate and have much room for improvement before I could dare to call myself such) friend.

As always the way with such educational books, you home in on the bits that suit your purposes. So my favourite quote to date is this:

The fact is, however, that the best theatre is always driven by a kind of libido, and directors without any sensual undertone or erotic frisson are likely to produce dull work.

Pity my actors at tonight's rehearsal.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A bit of variety on the bus front. I was waiting to get off the bus yesterday morning, work bound, listening listening to the Pet Shop Boys, when I thought I saw the bus driver moving his lips as if in speech. I craned forward imperiously: “I’m sorry, were you trying to speak to me?” At which point I couldn’t help but notice that he was a handsome young thing.

He said he hadn’t said anything to me but made some quip (that made me feel like a lecherous old fool) about my optimism in thinking it. At which point the girl on the front seat helpfully chimed in with a “he’s my favourite bus driver in the whole of Edinburgh. He’s always got a smile for everybody and he’s the best driver.” Luckily, the bus arrived at the stop at this point so the impromptu fanclub was dispersed.

So, more inattentiveness in my blogging habits.

I had a fabulous completely uncultural weekend in London last weekend. I saw the most enduring love of my life Neil Tennant in concert at O2 on Friday night (hence the iPod playlist). I spent the day in a frenzy of excitement, along with I suppose, the 19,999 other attendees. Although I don’t think anyone can love them as much as I.

I was not disappointed. Not only did they play many of my favourite old teenage heartache tracks, interspersed with some of the slightly more flimsy recent not quite hits, but their set consisted not just of 4 small blocks but in fact, many many many small blocks. Too many to count. The set started with them at the front of the stage. Chris hemmed in by keyboards wearing the usual stupid hat. Neil wearing some kind of hot looking (as in temperature) leathery jacket. Flanked on two sides by what looked like two screens.

But gloriously, when they got to the “I’m building a wall, a big giant wall, it’s not designed to keep me or them or someone out, but to keep you in” song, the screen like things turned out to be some of these many small boxes that Neil swiped at theatrically and they disintegrated into artistic rubble which the dancers then constructed and reconstructed through subsequent tracks. Lovely stuff.

Ross thinks they must have seen one of my shows...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A sluggish rehearsal last night. I think nobody's heart (except of course, mine) was quite in it and I had more or less lost my voice (same old). But I laughed until I wept so that made up for it.

Jacques / Creon did a brilliant tragic hero in The Final Scene of Death. Ross was pranking around and even Jo became irreverent in the face of fierce competition. It was very entertaining. To me, anyway.

Just met with the venue and I realise that my fine ideas about actors slipping behind the curtain on the stage left side of the side are futile as, in the age old cliche, there is barely room for a cat to go slipping about in there.

On the positive side, I have a lighting hanging plan and - father - we can light the aisle. He thinks we can hang something atop the scaffolding that keeps the seats up. As long as we provide our own wiring!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BTW, I saw Esther behind everyone's back last night. Heh heh heh.
So far, I could not be happier.

Three rehearsals in and everyone has turned up exactly when they were meant to. No-one has been late. (4 minutes hardly seems to count.) Two of my new people appear to be as lovely as they could be. Nobody is openly ridiculing me. Everyone is obediently (for the most part) pacing through the blocking I'm suggesting. No-one is defiantly (you know who you are) pronouncing whaddyacall incorrectly. I haven't (I don't think) even shown my pants yet.

And miracle of miracles, last night, A&E Consultant Jacques / Creon turned up clutching a body bag which he purloined from the hospital morgue. It looked not in the slightest like I expected it to. It's large. Much bigger than I expected. It's white. Tough white plastic. It does zip up but in an odd semi-circle around the edges of the rectangular sack. And fantastically it's got a little red plastic pocket on the front with a black DOCUMENTS stamped onto it.

I clambered into it to demonstrate to myself really that it would look less weird full of body. But it does rather raise the question of what exactly we stuff them with. As the plastic is thin enough that the contents will be fairly respectably outlined.

Still, a free body bag as opposed to a £10 one from the manufacturers down south or a sinisterly bid for ebay acquisition is all to the good. Have to think of my non-existent budget after all.

I am reminded of Jim Broadbent in Moulin Rouge screeching quasi-deliriously "Everything's Going So Well" just before everything spiralled out of control.

Monday, June 15, 2009

First real rehearsal on Sunday night with a select two members of the cast. And how very exciting to properly start getting my teeth into it.

Obligingly, practical stuff is starting to fall into place. My scripts, rather importantly, turned up this morning. The venue, at last, got back in touch and said we could meet to talk about practical things. Jon very kindly snapped us some soulful looking pictures of Shirley / Antigone in last night's torrential rain. It's amazing how much easier it is to consider supporting things like props and music and the like once rehearsals have actually begun. I'm no DG, that is sadly for sure.

But many people (or maybe even all people) seem hopelessly enthusiastic. Various people have read various online reviews of various productions. Jacques / Creon has read the trilogy of stories of which Antig apparently forms a part. Clearly I should know all this stuff but I do not. He's also read a Penguin version and the beautifully written but turgid and impenetrable Seamus Heaney take on the story. Burial at Thebes if you're tempted. Shirley / Antig has outdone even that as she is reading a book about the history and tradition of myths to understand where Antig fits.

I feel slightly out-read again with only my multiple script copies to show for my labours. Shoddy slapdash director strikes again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

First read-through for Antig last night. Most people turned up. Certainly all those that were supposed to were there. Which is always a bit of a relief. The latest was approx 4 to 5 minutes so that wasn't too bad. Though it did accidentally provoke me to give as close as I ever get to a lecture.

I remembered to mention membership forms without prompting. I spoke loosely and uninformatively about the set. I suggested that I reserved the right to call extra rehearsals should we need them though we shouldn't unless it went disastrously wrong. And I urged people to come for a drink afterwards.

And the reading ran to time despite a little fussing about how you pronounce the names. People read very well. I don't think it's too tiresome a play. And then they all trickled along the road to the pub. And it was nice, you know?

I hope hope hope that it goes on in this way. My last cast approximating to this size was for CCC. And we all know how that went.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I saw quite a smart little play last night. It was part of the Leith Festival, handily staged just round the corner from my place of work but the deciding factor from my point of view was that it was directed by Liam Rudden.

Called “Cock and Bull Story”, it was written by a couple of chaps called Richard Crowe and Richard Zajdlic. It’s a measure of my innocent eyes that I saw no insinuation in this until Ross investigated the website.

The play is “set in the working class, testosterone fuelled world of a boxing club” and tells the tale of a long-standing friendship between a verge of boxing stardom boy and his best mate. Unfortunately it turns out that Mr Verge of Stardom suffers from an unfortunate sexual issue when he boxes. His friend shuns him as a consequence.

Actually, the production was much better than this makes it sound. The two boys were brilliant (and pretty). Full of proper ‘working class’ energy. The lighting was cracking. And Mr Rudden directed beautifully, particularly considering the stage must have been all of eight foot square.

The script started out full of promise to my mind but is creaking with age a little by the time it meanders to the end of the second act. It was written almost twenty-five years ago. It sounds as if the writers might have been American. So I’m curious about how it got “Scottified”. It’s clearly all credit to how times have moved on that it starts to seem slightly far-fetched as the best friend spurns his friend by the end of the second act. But the boys do it as much justice as you possibly could so the end is still fairly poignant.

It’s on til Saturday. I would say it was worth seeking out. It also happens to be located in a lovely little café – he calls himself a bistro – called Kitsch which is worth a visit just because he’s new and I’d like him to do well. The best of reasons!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I saw a lovely film on Tuesday night, Let The Right One In. It was Danish or Swiss. Something Scandinavian in any case. And was typically brooding moody photography, thoughtful dwelling camera angles, soulful eyes and miserable lives.

I shouldn't spoil the story - for you should see it. But I never would have thought that vampires could be romantic.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

And better late than never, I'm finally making some small headway with the production side of things for Antig.

I blocked it courtesy of the SNCF. Between Paris and Figeac and La Souterraine and Paris. I don't doubt that it is practically tropical as a consequence.

Siobhan has given permission for me to use the child beyond the featured appearance in the script so I hope that this will add a delightful cuteness to the proceedings.

Then Sunday night, I enjoyed a production meeting which was delightfully well-attended. Thanks to all. I was reminded again of how hopelessly unambitious / lazy / pragmatic / unoptimistic / practical I am when Andy urged me to not abandon the powerful direction relating to body bags noted in the script. So I've requested a meeting with the venue to investigate.

DG has been as tirelessly efficient as ever and procured me a prompt and a props person.

So all in, we're in remarkably good shape. I just need to start working through my 24 point long to do list. Easy.
Well I'm back now, more's the pity (though I'm sure Brian doesn't think so). In fact, I've been back 5 long days already. And a sliver of a night.

I had a fun filled awards night with work on Friday at which I triumphantly won precisely nothing. With my client sat next to me waiting expectantly. This was onlt mildly embarrassing.

Saturday was considerably more entertaining. The boy and I went to Club Noir in Glasgow. Their fifth birthday party in fact. We've tried this out once before - last festival in Edinburgh - and it was a terrible night. Unatmospheric. Terrible visibility. Terrible acts mostly so it hardly mattered. A weird assortment of people who should have known better, all weirdly costumed. And was it really compered by Jim Bowen?? Yes, indeed, it was. It was as disappointing as Vegas after Going Places. Which was stupendously disappointing. So I didn't feel very predisposed to try it again.

However, you must give these things the benefit of the doubt. And it surely wouldn't have lasted so long if this had been the best it had to offer. Perhaps Edinburgh isn't cool enough to accommodate these things. Who's to say?

Anyway, to get to the point, Saturday night was fabulous. We spent most of the night people watching. Everyone was beautiful (or at least trying their best). All kinds of corsetry, military uniforms, wigs, feathers (but importantly no boas), sequins on men and women alike, false eyelashes, giant platform shoes, a few glorious frock coats and powdered wigs. I only missed Ross.

The acts were variable. My favourite was the young man who burst out of a birthday cake and ballet danced. The gimp girl who lashed her long plaits about the stage was a bit daft. There was a gorgeous singer. We missed the band as we were in the upstairs bar while Russell patiently queued for drinks and I reapplied my lipstick and enjoyed the view. And the DJ slot for the last hour was a remarkably arbitrary clutter of SNAP I've got the Power through to (surely more appropriately, Mr Sinatra. But by then, I was so seduced, it hardly even mattered.

The next one is Halloween. Mark it in your diary boys and girls.